Adding to Advision
Advision have stepped forward into the new age of recording — and to do so have stepped backwards.
Studio One at Advision's Gosfield Street premises has been completely re-designed and it's come out more like a studio of the 1950s than a studio of 1975. That's not a criticism — the studio looks very 1975 — it's just that recording techniques are dictating that acoustic brightness has come back into studio design.
"I think everybody got carried away trying to build dead studios and getting absolute separation on tracks and the sounds suffered for that reason," says Advision's studio director Roger Cameron. "We've built this studio to give a far more natural sound than before with one half of the studio designed to be reasonably dead and one half quite live."
As producers' tastes veered back towards a more lively studio acoustic, Advision decided to re-design Studio One to cater for this and they managed to combine the re-designing with the installation of a new desk in the Studio.
In fact, all the control consoles have been replaced in the complex and the whole "updating Advision" operation has cost around £200,000 pounds. The studio was successful and fully booked before the re-designing, so why make the effort?
"We decided that we had to have a new control desk in Studio One because our old desk, although working very well, was not big enough to handle the highly complex sessions we were getting. We decided that as the studio would have to close for a while during the time the desk was installed we might as well make use of the time to do some re-designing that we had been planning. We wanted to update the acoustics mainly and make the whole system more flexible."
Swedish acoustics expert, Stellan Dahlstdet, flew to the UK to study the Advision acoustics problem — he was responsible for Advision's original design - and working with the Advision team he managed to produce acoustics with the response curves they wanted. By measuring the existing response he was able to calculate the degree of absorbency required to give the desired acoustic. Baffles were put in (and taken out) and membrane absorbers that are finely tuned to a particular cycle were fitted. There's a strikingly unusual suspended sound diffuser over the drum booth and this can be raised or lowered to alter the acoustic perspective of the booth.
The decor is equally striking in the studio. It's a large area (comfortable studio capacity is 60 musicians — "we had 75 in once but that was after a party") and it's finished in an over-all glow of a deep orange/rust colour and all the lighting is dimmable which makes it an easy studio to spend long periods in. Tony Burrows was the architect — he was responsible for the decor of the original Advision studio — and he managed to make a functional design artistic at the same time.
A special feature of the studio is the most advanced podium in the world. It's wired up to everything that stood still long enough and the conductor is able to talk via several different fold backs direct to the control room and has a re-time counter so he can time items precisely.
The control room has also been completely refitted and the heart of it is the Quad 8 34 channel desk that Feldon Audio imported from California for Advision.
"We took the plunge and ordered our computer mixing desk and our control desk from Quad at the same time," said Roger, "Fortunately they've both worked perfectly."
The Quad 8 desk in the control room is similar to the giant compumixing desk that we described in our February issue with the except that it is sans computer. All functions are controlled by logic circuits so that switching each channel from mic to line source (for instance) is made by the touch of a single control as against laboriously switching each channel. An other very important feature is that the faders are voltage-controlled and are not simple linear potentiometers. For this reason a group of faders can be linked to a single group fader (for instance five faders governing a drum kit) and all five levels can be adjusted simultaneously without losing the stereo or quad separations.
Naturally the desk has full quad capabilities and metering can be via either PPM or VU meters. The desk feeds MCI and Scully recorders (24 and 16 track) and other facilities include JBL monitoring, Dolby noise reduction, digital delay lines, phasers, etc.
As might be guessed from the name, Advision's beginnings are rooted in film dubbing and the audio arts are still catered for. Facilities for both 35 and 16mm film dubbing are available in Studio One.